luni, 25 mai 2009

The Bahia effect

Once upon a time, when in our little town was even less decent place to go out, drink something, have a talk with your friends, and occasionally party, someone realized that there’s a pretty thick layer of students who don’t have a steady place to go, because they don’t share the same taste with the other locals frequenters. At that time you could go the Tilos (“Not allowed”) which was usually crowded with drunk people, although it was absolutely possible to have a good conversation here, because along the drunk rockers most of the customers were intellectuals, you could often meet your teachers here. Tilos had its own unique atmosphere, with its metal and rock music, with its cheap, strong and not too sophisticated drinks, whit its late closing hour (I know a few people who sometimes went to the Tilos one day, and they went to school from there the other morning) loved by so many people, appreciated by even more, but still, it wasn’t for everyone. If you want to read more about the Tilos, visit my friends blog at Outside the Tilos, you could go to some restaurants, where you could eat pizza and stuff, but because they closed at around 12 PM they were not ideal for nightlife. Of course there were some discos, with their house, trance and dance music which where popular among those who like this type of music.

So Bahia opened, more precisely Bahia Blue Tea House. It is true, that Bahia became great because of its frequents, but it assured the right conditions for those people: it had four big rooms, one after the other in a row. You entered at one end, where the bar was, and you could get deeper and deeper. The end of the “cave”, the last room, with leather couches, and with pretty few lights was reserved for the owner and his close circle (you were the biggest “Bahia-man” if you spent your time on the tiny balcony where you could go from the last room). The walls were usually decorated by friends of the owner with some abstract paintings which fitted the places atmosphere very well. The furniture wasn’t to expensive, in fact it was the cheapest possible: old round tables and simple chairs made of wood. Although they weren’t expensive, at some nights it was the biggest luxury to sit on a chair. At the bar you could get yourself the usual not too expensive drinks, like beer, whine, shots of strong spirits, and they even made cocktails, if you told them how to do it :). Its name being Tea House, they also served tea here: you could taste around 25 different types of tea, all of them original, not from teabags, and all of them at a really really low price. No miracle that after a few hours there you spent as much many, as you would have in a restaurant by buying a beer. If you wanted to make friends, or to do something else than talk, you went to the foosball tables (if you have no idea what that is then: ). As far as I know the Bahia was the first place in town where you could play this game, and it made its effect: those who went to the Bahia from the beginnings are among the best foosball players in the word. The fact that almost everyone played the game who went there gave Csíkszereda a funny reputation: stereotypically if you are from the town, you are pretty good at this game. Of course, this may be due to that here in almost every pub you can find a foosball table, but in other towns, at least where I have been it's pretty hard to find a good one.

So what made this place so great, that even now, when like three years passed since it closed, everyone still knows where it was, even if he or she was has never been there, and no pub managed to be as popular as Bahia was. First of all, like I mentioned it was the people who went there. The pub with its alternative and drum & bass music was the home of the forming alternative people, who stereotypically listened to the music genres mentioned above, went to the Márton Áron theoretic high school or to the Nagy István arts school, practiced extreme sports (the owner was among the first to practice an x-sport) and well, smoked weed. Of course this is a stupid characterisation, there were really few who actually did all those, but it gives you and idea of the people who went there. Csíkszereda being a small town, you could be sure, that if you went there, you found someone to have a drink with (I did not say someone who you know, because you knew almost everyone), so when you had a little free time, you didn’t have to arrange anything, you just went there and had fun. In every Monday, the second and the third room was host to folk dance events, where people who knew these dances and who wanted to learn them could participate. And every now and then there was a Bahia-party. A Bahia-party is characterized by a huge crowd, you can barely move, by smoke so thick that you can feel it from the street, even see it coming out of the windows, drum & bass music and a feeling like no other. My university student sisters told me, that it was so great because when these were organized in holidays when those who studied in other towns came home, so it was again something that didn’t had to be arranged: you knew that you’ll meet all your friends there. Although officially everyone had the right to enter, there was an unwritten rule that if you weren’t a high school student you were not allowed there (of course there were some exceptions, usually little sisters and brothers, like myself), so Bahia became a symbol of maturity.

Due to financial reasons Bahia got closed. That was the time, when everyone realized truly how great place it was. Even now, after seeing fine places of bigger towns, like Temesvár, Kolozsvár, Marosvásárhely or Budapest I still say: if they’d reestablish this place in Csíkszereda, this would be my favorite pub in the whole world.

marți, 19 mai 2009

“We will meet again!” – by any captured villain

This weekend our town was the host of my favorite sports event of the region: the 24 hour basketball marathon! The idea is simple: take a ball, lots of basketball-loving people formed into teams, a clock to count down from 24, a basketball court and there you go! Of course some lights for the night games and some music can also come handy :).

I really like this event, because it brings together all the players from our region, usually from towns like Szentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe), Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni), Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureş), Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc). Between your matches there’s plenty of time to talk to some people who you know, but don’t see too often. As a matter of fact, most of them you know because last year, at this event at 6AM you had a talk about poems/girls/boys/goals in life while watching some teams play. This event generates an atmosphere that is almost impossible to reproduce in any other way that I experienced.

This year, because I had no team to play in, I went to the Days of the Students to some other town. Although it’s a totally different thing it slightly reminded me to the feeling of the marathon. Once again I felt, that people of my age have come together to „refresh” old friendships, to form new ones and to have fun. I felt that the youth of this region has a very special characteristic: it has the best of fun if it is together.

So why are these events so unique? I guess that this is a mix of the facts like :

-> the hometowns of the people participating are relatively small, so people coming from there usually know each other

->events so original and fun, and only for Hungarians from Romania are not that common, so when there is one, everyone participates

->the distance between these towns is relatively small, so friends can easily visit each other even in working days, they can easily participate in events organised by others, so it works like that: you met someone from somewhere, you change numbers, and when they organize something they ask you to come too, your chances of actually going there being extremly high, again because the small distances

Bouncing back to my original topic: I’m glad that Csíkszereda is the home and the founder of such a great event, and I hope that next year I’ll be there again to meet some basketball folks. For those who have never been to this event (not necessarily to play, but to support his or her team or just to catch the feeling) I strongly recommend to come, and for those who have already been there: see you next year!

More about youth events and ties with other towns of the region coming soon!

miercuri, 13 mai 2009

Nationality Geographically Channel?

Csíkszereda is populated mostly by székely’s. Who are they? They are the people who speak Hungarian in this region of Romania . Is that so simple? Can you describe these people just by the geographical region where they live? Of course not. This is a topic way over my head, and I really do not want to discuss it into its full depths. My goal is to mention some of the things that influence the people of the town.
The first thing: is it possible to be székely and Hungarian in the same time? Yes it is. For those unfamiliar with the situation, here’s a little history: .
Before Treaty of Trianon (ToT) it was easy to identify your nationality: you were a Hungarian citizen, and you belonged to the székely ethnical group, and you were proud of both (or maybe not:P, but for as much as I have heard, nationality was not a topic too often discussed, because it was obvious). Not to mention that Transylvania had its own history, with its own lords, own wars and own intrigues. Often Transylvania walked its separate ways from Hungary , like a little brother, who may do whatever he wants, but he’s always part of the family. After ToT you became a Romanian citizen, so you were Romanian, but still, you were still a Hungarian, who lived across the borders, and of course you were still székely. Which one is more important? It depends on the situation. As time went by, the communist regime came, and left. Then people did not cry for their rights as a minority, because they had other things to think about, like food or electricity. The Hungarian minority had some rights, like Hungarian schools and a few others, but when one was taken away, then there was nothing to do, so everyone just tried to live to the next day. Step by step, communism took away so many things, that people just fled, most of them to Hungary or to even farther, but always to the west. It’s easy to understand them: the paranoid dictatorship thought, that the Hungarians had one more reason not to be loyal, so they were threated with extra „care”. I don’t want to go deeper into this, you get the idea. The result was, that those who stayed had to endure terrible things, the worst thing being, that you could not trust anyone, you never knew who’s reporting on you.
Then democracy came, and with it, other kinds of problems. Suddenly you woke up, and you could not say anything right. If you said you are Hungarian, then the radical groups called you a traitor, for not sharing their fate, or for not being true székely, because a true székely, from their point of view wears traditional clothes when it celebrates something, even if his or her ancestors did not wear traditional clothes for that occasion (for example graduation from high school) and so on. Moreover, as a Hungarian, you were associated with Hungary, the country populated by people who speak your mother tongue, the country that has influence on you, but who you can not influence. From here, Romania you can not vote, but the ones that win elections there will feel free to decide about you, to stand for your matters when negotiating with the Romanian politicians. But what if they do something stupid? They did it for you...but you had nothing to do with it. What if you say „I’m székely!”? This is also a tricky situation. For example on the last census made in Romania, Hungarian and székely were two different options. This was a technique of the Romanian politicians to count less hungarians, so they can cut on some founds destinated for the major minority. The other problem with this is, that if you are asked by someone not from Romania or Hungary about your nationality, and you respond that you are székely, than you are going to spend your next half an hour explaining yourself.

I could go on with this all day long. The main idea is that if you live in Csíkszereda, and you’r not Romanian, then you’ll probably have trouble defining your nationality in a few words. But this is not our problem. We all know and feel what we are. It’s just the outsiders who can’t understand it, sometimes no matter how long you try to explain.
But in my opinion it’s a great thing to be székely. It’s nice to have cultural diversity (the words so often said when the topic is the EU) in a single person, or all around you. It makes you more tolerant and more understanding in the topics of ethnicity. For people with a more radical thinking, this is a soil to breed on, a way do define themselves. Wrong or right? Who cares! It is a good thing…

marți, 12 mai 2009


Csixereda is not a town. More precisely, it’s not the little town in the middle of Romania , in Transylvania , in its original Hungarian name Csíkszereda, in its Romanian name Miercurea Ciuc. But Csixereda is pronounced just like Csíkszereda. So what’s the difference? The difference is that while the one written with “ksz” is the name of the town, the one written with x is a feeling, a feeling that everyone who lives or lived there knows well. Of course they call it a thousand ways. I call it Csixereda, because it has a certain x factor. No, it’s not dangerous or anything but its aspects are as a matter of fact unknown, and unknowns are usually denoted with x. They are unknown but in the same time known by everyone. In this blog I will try to make clear some aspects of it by writing down my thoughts. Of course my goal is not to make it general. These are my thoughts, my feelings, and I do keep up the right to talk about anything else, if I want to.

I do not posses a too unique viewpoint, but the fact that I spent eighteen years in the town and recently went away to college gave me lots of new ideas about things in my hometown. With me leaving, some strings connecting me there were cut, but some were straightened, and on the twelve hours long train rides to home, or to Temesvár (where I’m in college) I had plenty of time to think about how it feels to leave and return to my hometown.

I hope that if someone from Csíkszereda reads it, he or she will recognize some of the things described, and if someone who never even heard of the town reads it will get a better idea about it, than by reading a guidebook. Of course if you never ever heard of Csíkszereda then check out this site for the basic things about the town:

And I do hope that you’ll form your opinion on my entries in form of comments.